Category: Culture

14 Mar

Scheduled Blackouts and Things We Can Do

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

planned blackouts

After the earthquake on the 11th of March, they are having scheduled blackouts to save power.

In Japan, the power source is divided in two; western Japan and eastern Japan. Curiously enough, they have different power level. In western part they use 50Hz and in eastern part, 60Hz. Although they have transformer to be able to help each part, even so, to cover entire eastern part is almost impossible. In the western Japan, they have reoperated some of the thermal power stations to send excess power to eastern part but still about 10 million kw of energy is short.

planned blackout in yamanashi


In the eastern Japan, they are separated in five groups and they have a blackout by taking turn. However this grouping is not so clear and there is a confusion. All day, Tokyo Electric Power was on the TV interview and being blamed of giving unclear announcement.

Way from Tohoku, here in Yamanashi prefecture, they have a turn of sheduled blackout. During the night of the 11th of March, People were lighting up the candles and cooking on the portable stove. A woman says "comparing to what is happening to the north, this is the minimum thing we can do to save some power. It's only a few hours of a day." Exactly.

blackout plan

This is the planning for blackout. Many countries are impressed by this. If you remember big blackout in NY, it's hard to control brown-out and Japan is one of few countries which is capable to manage it. But of course the information is confusing and people are irritated.

tokyo chaos

In Tokyo, the trains were running but less than normal schedule. Stations were full of people who were trying to get to work and became chaotic.



Until today, there have been 194 aftershock are recorded.

13 Mar

Liquefaction in Tokyo after the quake

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 1 Comment

Comparing to the damage in the northeast coast of Japan, there is nothing to complain in Tokyo. Yes, the quake was scale 5 and it is scary especially if you are not from Japan but from the countries where never have experienced earthquake. However, Japan is well prepared, thinking of people in Sendai who lost their houses and families, we can't moan having some plates broken. 

The area near Tokyo Bay, the land is man-made. If you remember the earthquake in Kobe in 1995, you might've seen the ground had liquefied. This is what is happening in this area, too.

liquefactionSoon after the quake, the muddy water started coming out from the ground and my mother ran out of the house to get away the mud from the exhaust of my father's car. She sacrificed the parking and other car and saved his treasure.

sank bike





Neighbour's parking. The bike and the bicycle are half stuck in the mud. It's all come out from the the mud





In the same afternoon, people started to get rid of the mud because once it dries, the mud turns back to concrete so it has to be quick. Unfortunately my mother has just had the parking done, but the people from the construction company came to help her for getting rid of the mud. Look how thik the mud is. Since the earthquake, all the neighbourhood is helping each other.

mount of mud



This is the result of a day. They don't know if the municipal will come and collect this but I think this is the minimum they can do for the local residents.





It's a little difficult to see on the photo but you can see the house is a bit tilted because of the wobbly ground.


tilted gate




And here you see the gate of a house is well tilted and a big crack on the street. The mud they scraped out has become a good support for the gate, it seems…

leaned trees


Same house. Their fence fell down and the hedge are also lean forwards. The house of my mother is tilted backwards and according to her, if she sits on the toilet which is located at the back part of the house, she feels falling backward towards the wall.



The area where Tokyo Disney Land is totally covered with mud. Here is the link to the video

I'm so relieved that my family and friends are safe despite of lots of work to do. My mother is tired of running around and queuing for the water, or not being able to wash herself. But the most important thing is she is safe under the roof.

They are advicing to the people outside of Tohoku region where have much less damage to cut the power as much as possible. In fact, Tokyo Electric Power has decided a power control until this summer regardless of the recovery of the power. I think that is the minimum we can do at the moment.

13 Mar

2 Days after the quake attack to Japan

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments





2 days has passed after the earthquake attack in Japan. The rescue is carried out all day and in Tohoku region; Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi,Fukushima and Ibaraki, 5 prefectures there are in 2456 shelters in 135 towns and in total 361,548 people evacuated. Miyagi, where had the most damage has the most, 1008 shelters and 201,910 people evacuated. In many shelters have no electricity nor water and also are short of food and fuel to heat up the place.

A survivor stood devastated on where her house used to be in Sendai.


This is the Google Map photo of Ishinomaki City in Miyagi. The photo on the left was taken in 2007 and on the right is obviously after the quake.

google before ishinomakigoogle after ishinomaki








radiation check

According to the official announcement from Niigata prefecture, two people who were woking at Fukushima nuclear plants when the quake happened were exposed to the radiation and 19 people are possible to be exposed. In Fukushima 40 people were treated. Health centres are examining all the people in the shelters and now about 160 people are possibily exposed to the radiation.  



  on the roof

So many people are still missing and meanwhile, a man was rescued 15km away from the coast of Fukushima prefecture in the morning of the 13th. When Tsunami attacked his house, he managed to climb up to the roof but Tsunami drew him out to the ocean. Maritime Self Difence Force of Japan found him floating in the middle of ocean asking for a help. He was safely rescued and taken to the hospital but in a good condtion.


support from US

Already many support is reaching from all over the world. There are also many foreigners lived in Tohoku area and are missing. Many countries are trying to find out their safety. I like to send all my support and condolences.

12 Mar

Higashi Nihon Daishinsai- Day after

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

On the 11th of March 2011, a huge earthquake attacked the northeast coast of Japan. It was magnitude 8.8, one of the biggest earthquake in the world in the last century. As I reported yesterday, it happened at 14:46, most of the people were at work, some managed to go home on foot and some remained at work. This earthquake is now named Higashi Nihon Daishinsai. (Eastern Japan Big Earthquake)

Japan is a country of earthquake, centuries and centuries people were liveing with it and it is said that there is no other nation which is as prepared as Japanese. Since we are child, we learn and practice how to act when an earthquake ocurrs. I remember at school and at work, once a year we had an emergency evacuation practice. While we were studying or working, suddenly a siren rang then a director's voice told us that it's quaking. We all sit under the desk with a hood for the protection, then evacuated to the open space.

Even that, in front of the natural disaster, we are helpless. This is the aftermath of the day after.

JR Shinchi Machi station in Fukushima prefecture was wiped out by Tsunami and only remained deformed train and a part of the station.

remain of the station
Kisen Numa in Miyagi prefecture collapsed by Tsunami. kesennuma
Rikuzen Takata in Iwate prefecture is considered as totally destroyed. Entire city was covered with mud and some people who escaped to the rooftop of a supermarked are waiting for a rescue. escaped to the roof
Fire-fighting men are checking inside a car abandoned on the side of the raiway. rescue operation iwate
People are escaping to the shelter, the small truck is passing by destroyed city. to the shelter iwate

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has admitted that after the quake on the 11th of March around at 15:30, there was an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant and approximately 90 people might have been exposed to radiation.

Fukushima nuclear plant 1 and 2 have started to emit the steam contains radioactivity in order to low the pressure of the plants. Emergency directions was announced to the local residents in four towns about 50,000 perople around the plants escaped from their hometown.  

fukushima nuclear plant



11 Mar

M8.8 huge earthquake attacked Japan coast, 11/03

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan, news Tags: , 0 Comments

11th of March at 14:46 Japan time, M8.8 scale earthquake attacked Japan's north-east coast. Majority of Tohoku region has been damaged. In Tokyo resistered an intensiry of 5 and all the tubes in Tokyo have been suspended after the earthquake. There are many power stations in the north region in Japan and all have been stopped the generations. 

The numbers are magnitude and the cross mark in the ocean is the hypocentre. This is the northern region in Japan.


It's still quaking, 3,000 people are stuck in Shibuya station due to the suspention of all public transport, they have been adviced to remain in the office and not try to go home.


Kasumigaseki, Tokyo




Office in Tokyo

Urayasu area in Chiba is a pure made ground and now liquefaction is happening. This is a taxi in front of the station stuck in the water. liquefaction
Smoke is coming out from some buildings in Tokyo


Destroyed shops in Tokyo shops
Tsunami attacked Fukushima region and a fire broke out fukushima
The oil refineries in Chiba have exploded chiba explosion

There is limited power source in Japan, no power in Tohoku area (northern region) and Yokosuka area and some places in Tokyo. At this moment, many people are missing in especially in Miyagi area and at least 26 peole died.

On BBC news there is a live news. BBC LIVE NEWS.

There is a risk of Tsunami to other Pacific area including Taiwan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand.

Now according to the latest news from Vienna, all five nuclear plants have been shut down safely and no danger of leaking.



More about 3.11

M8.8 quake attacked Japan

A year after in Japan

A year after the story of Japanese people

Tokyo report

07 Mar

Konbini sweets for sweet tooth men

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: 0 Comments

There are products that boost Konbini stores' sales recently in Japan.

It's “Men's sweets”.

Until a little while ago, sweets were considered for kids and women, and it was a shameful thing that a man has a sweet tooth. Japanese samurai don't like sweets.

But this is changing.

According to a statistics, 70% of sweets buyers are men and most of them buy at Konbini store. The reason behind is simple, men want to buy sweets but still it's a little embarrassing for a man to sit in a pretty cafe and eat a cake surrounded by women or to be seen him choosing some cakes for himself in front of the show case of a patisserie.

This statistics shows the place where people buy sweets. The blue is men and the pink is women. Needless to say, there are more men buyer than women and the most common place for buying sweets is Konbini (the fourth from the top), then supermarkets (the third) and cake shops (the top) come third.  



man sweets series

cream puff

Otoko no Tiramisu Shuu(Man's tiramisu chou á la créme)

Konbini solves all these problems.

Last June “Men's Sweets” series released from one of the Kobini store, FamilyMart in Japan. The targets are sweet tooth men. For not to embarrass them, the packages are simple but at the same time they focus on the ingredients and the texture of the products. Most of the sweets are less sweet than normal products by using for example bitter chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Also the packaging is important. Men's Sweets series has manly, chic based on black simple packaging. FamilyMart is growing its sales especially with chilled sweets such as cream puffs and almond pudding.

Kobini store is the saviour of Japanese sweet tooth men. Some makes a comment “there are many men sweets lover but they are either embarrassed to go to a cake shop or too busy at work going to a shop during the day. So being able to buy good quality sweets at Konbini store is really a good news for sweet lovers”

almond pudding

Otoko no Annin Dofu (Man's almond pudding)

The photo is another one of the most popular man sweets “Ore no Ekurea (my éclair)“

“Men's Sweets“ as it shows are sweets particularly developed for men since there have been many men who are “secret sweets lovers“ in Japan.

Normally the sweets are made for women and the problem is its size. Those tiny pretty sweets are just not enough to satisfy sweet tooth men. But don't worry, “Men's Sweets” have launched.

First, its size. Compare to a stapler on the desk…

Huge… getting your teeth into this must feel like a dream…

It's big enough to fill even a man's stomach.

Of course what you can expect from this sized éclair is… calorie. It has 566 calories. Considering that an adult man need 2,000 calories a day, just one sweet can give you a huge intake.

ore no ekurea

ore no ekurea 3

ore no ekurea 2


danshi sweets club

For those who love sweets, there are some clubs such as “Danshi Sweets Club” (Men's Sweets Club) which is founded in one of the Japanese trend magazines called DIME. They talk about new sweets products, new trend in sweets, search for new cake shops or evaluate famous patisseries. They even have forums and puts recipe for Konbini sweets. This is a respectable club for sweet tooth men.

Here is one of their recipe by using a Risou no purin (Ideal Pudding). So easy that anyone can make it!

Ingredients are Risou no purin and a slice of bread.

risou no purin[Risou no Purin]


recipe 1

1. Score the surface of the sliced bread

recipe 2

2. Pour over the pudding

recipe 3

3. Sprinkle some dry fruits and put it in the toaster

recipe 4

4. It's done, so easy

recipe 5

5. Sprinkle some powder sugar to finish up

Japanese food is highly recommended in the Western world because of its healthiness but on the contrary, Japan is now following the Western style nutrition.

Then I wonder what gives Japanese men a craving for sweets. Because of the stress Japanese businessmen have from their workload and the pressure from their wives? Or simply this is a backlash against eating super healthy food?

In any cases, Japanese men are craving for “sweets time”. “Sweet approach” this may be a key for Western girls who want to have Japanese boyfriend.

03 Mar

Meyami Jizo

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: 0 Comments

Meyami Jizo (めやみ地蔵) is a Budhisattvas for eyes and people who have problems with their eyes come here to pray. Me-yami means sicken eyes in Japanese and Jizo is one of the Budhisattvas commonly known as a guardian god in Japan.

16 Feb

Seal (Hanko)

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: 0 Comments


Recently I've found something I haven't been using for a decade. It's a seal, hanko in Japanese. Instead of signing, Japanese people put the seal on any document. For the different purposes, they normally have various types of selas. For the usual use, only shows their family name but for something more important use, it shows the full name.


There are stil many seal makers (hanko shokunin) running the business all over Japan and they engrave the name by hand on any materials and font you like.

seal engraving

For seals, you can chose from various materials from different types of wood to ivory which can cost 64,900 yen (about $774). You need to buy a stamp pad which always comes in red. I've never seen other colour.

Once you have your seal, get a hanko case like this.







But for the daily use, to put the seal for receiving a parcel, you couldn't be bothered taking the hanko out, stamp is and wipe the ink etc.. Don't worry, there is a mechanical type which the ink is already set in, called shachihata


I remember this was always at the entrance of the house in the little basket where the keys were, and when the postman came, I'd stamp the hanko to receive a parcel or a letter.

Putting seal correctly is a quite important thing for Japanese people. If you put it on the wrong place or if it's not straight, your clients may not accept the document and can return it to you. Actually there are quite many forums and websites where teach them how to put the hanko perfectly.

This is an basic example.

shomei_natsuin right

this is good

shomei_natsuin bad

this is bad


Recent increase of foreign workers or residents, hanko is available in Katakana.



Danny White

Danny White


With this hanko, now you can sign in properly in Japan.



Iro Megane 色眼鏡

Finally Japan opens its mouth. With its own mouth speaks loud about Japan, Japanese people and culture. Why they do it? And how they feel it? They will tell you all from their own point of view.

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